WeHero Learning Series | The Future of Employee Engagement and Social Good in Companies

October 2, 2023

David Grubman: You mentioned technology and obviously, you know, WizeHive, we're a company of technology and services, and so we are a bit of technologists and technicians and pulling something right from the headlines... I think the Screenwriters Guild just to agree to move forward with ending their strike, a lot of which was impacted by artificial intelligence in their negotiations. What's the, what are your guys' thoughts on where, I mean, obviously huge societal impact from artificial intelligence. Where do you think that fits in here? Either putting, making things better or worse? And Alex, I'd love to start with you.

Alex Budak: Well, the first place we can start is that as we think about AI if you're anything like my students, it's going to make you more effective at your jobs. You're going to be able to do the same amount of work and less time as we learn to do AI. So could there be a place where it frees up more time to engage in social impact initiatives? You know, imagine for instance, you have 20% of your time. Could that 20% go to then working on social impact things? I think there's also a chance to use it to go deeper into our research of how we think about our programs. One of my favorite assignments in my class, it's called the Changemaker of the Week, where we ask students to choose a changemaker who inspires them. And they have to make the case for why this person embodies the traits we talk about in class.

Alex Budak: And we use ChatGPT as a tool to help us source those changemakers. So we'll say for instance, okay, I'm 22 years old, I care about gender equality. I'm really passionate about sports and music. Tell me five changemakers whom I don't know about that I should consider for this assignment. It's amazing what it comes out with, much better than a Google search. And so are there opportunities there to engage artificial intelligence to go even deeper than we thought about? You know, one of the trends I've been talking about is not just going with the big names to support the big name organizations, but rather go a bit deeper. Could AI help to unlock that, help us do deeper research and find some of those hidden gems and maybe are doing really wonderful community-based work, but aren't getting elevated to the same same standard to date.

David Grubman: It's all, it's also, it's almost the same thing Tessa was saying. It's like how do you create that connection when you may not have those connections socially through that. Tessa, what do you think, in terms of what you see?

Tessa Edwards: Well, one thing that I am excited about is the, the possibilities of the, the predictive tools that can help companies determine which, which volunteer program, might resonate best with their employees or which you know, what time of year would be best. Right? And then also on the individual level too, I think this, these, the, you know, on a very operational kind of level, it AI, be able to look at employee's calendars and say, here is an event. I see you're available on this day. Here is an event and can you join it? Right? And send those messages, which I think there's some level of that now with companies or technology solutions, being able to do a little bit of that, and then also manually done by some of the social impact teams. But I think having AI do that for us, even though those are really kind of little operational pieces, I do think that those nudges really make an impact on an individual employee whether they can join or not. So I'm excited about those.

David Grubman: That's awesome. That's awesome. It very different, Alex, than what you've described, but I think that's, I'm reflecting what you said, Alex, and I think that's phenomenal the way they're able to leverage it. Ben, you know, it's coming to you. I, I think how does AI fit in your future?

Ben Sampson: Back to relating it to bottlenecks a little bit. Social impact programs are equally exciting and equally forgotten. Meaning that, you know, when you launch a social impact program in a company, an employee quite often they'll log in, they'll sign up, right? But quickly forgotten because there's competing priorities, right? Maybe my boss needs to get me to get a, have a report delivered by this date, right? So it, it quickly goes down the list of priorities. I think AI as an enabling technology in these platforms is pretty exciting. So example, some of the things that I think about David, is I'm on the platform. I've put in all the non-profit areas and cause areas that I'm really passionate about. I get busy in my week, but the AI bot can go like, Hey Ben, I noticed you're living in Seattle. I noticed I've integrated with your calendar and I see that you have a block available Friday from two to 4:00 PM there's a food bank about half a mile away that has a volunteer slot available.

Ben Sampson: Would you like to go volunteer? That is going to happen. That's amazing. And I think that's super exciting from like an enabling technology point of view and consistently nudging like Tessa was talking about and reminding employees that you can volunteer and instead of you doing the work to find the opportunity here, I've already found it for you and I know already works with your schedule. So I think that's just one of many examples of how this can be an enabling piece of technology and I think it could really help with companies just getting engagement.

David Grubman: That's a phenomenal example. I love that.

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Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

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